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When Is Surgical Intervention the Right Approach for Nasal Congestion?

When Is Surgical Intervention the Right Approach for Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion can result from many factors, including allergies, infections, structural problems, lifestyle problems such as smoking or chronic inflammatory conditions like chronic sinusitis. Medications, nasal sprays, saline irrigations and lifestyle changes are the first line of defense, and in many cases, your congestion may resolve when the underlying condition, such as a common cold or repeated exposure to an irritant resolves. 

However, if your stuffy or blocked nose doesn’t resolve as it should or when nonsurgical measures prove inadequate to relieve your nasal congestion, you may be a candidate for surgical treatment options.

At Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing in Houston, Texas, Dr. Conrad McCutcheon uses the MiniCAT 2020™ — an in-office ultra low dose sinus optimized CT scan — to pinpoint the source of your congestion and create your treatment plan. Your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms dictate which type of nasal procedure is best for you.

Are you wondering if it’s time for you to consider a procedure for nasal congestion?

6 indications for surgical intervention

Most all cases of nasal congestion do not require surgery, but it might be the right approach for you if:

1. You have a deviated septum

If the wall of cartilage and bone between your nostrils is off-center, it can hinder your airflow and leave you feeling constantly congested. Surgical correction, known as a septoplasty, can straighten the septum and alleviate nasal congestion. Caveat: approximately 80% of the population has a deviated septum. Only a detailed history and physical examination along with a sinus CAT scan can determine its significance.

2. You have chronically inflamed sinuses 

When sinusitis persists despite medical treatments, you may consider endoscopic sinus surgery. This approach helps open the sinuses, improve drainage, and reduce inflammation.

Dr. McCutcheon also offers a minimally invasive treatment called balloon sinuplasty so you can get relief from chronic sinusitis without traditional surgery.

3. You have nasal polyps or tumors

Nasal polyps, noncancerous growths in the nasal passages, are painless but can lead to persistent congestion. Surgical removal, often performed in the office, may be necessary for long-term relief.

Nasal polyps aren’t the only types of growths that can be removed. Nasal congestion caused by tumors or abnormal growths may necessitate surgical removal to alleviate symptoms and address potential health concerns.

4. You have problems with your turbinates

Your turbinates are long structures inside of your nose that help humidify, warm, and filter the air you breathe. When they become abnormally enlarged, it’s known as turbinate hypertrophy; if they’re too big, they can block airflow and contribute to congestion. Turbinate reduction procedures may help improve airflow.

5. Your nasal valve has collapsed

Structural abnormalities with nasal valves can lead to obstruction. You might suspect you have a nasal valve collapse if you have congestion that is relieved by lifting the tip of your nose or pulling on the skin adjacent to each nostril out to the side. If you frequently breathe with your mouth open, snore at night, and notice breathing difficulties when you lie flat, you may have nasal obstruction due to chronic sinusitis, nasal valve collapse and or turbinate hypertrophy. Sinus surgery and or nasal valve repair with or without turbinate reduction can address this problem.

6. Conservative methods haven’t helped you

When nonsurgical interventions, including medications and lifestyle changes, fail to provide relief, surgical intervention might be the right approach to finding a more definitive solution.

Factors to consider before having surgery for congestion

As with any surgery, it’s important to weigh all of the pros and cons before committing. Here are a few more things to think about before considering a surgical procedure:

If you aren’t yet ready for surgery, Dr. McCutcheon can recommend the right nonsurgical options for you. This may include allergy medication or minimally invasive procedures such as ClariFix® cryotherapy.

Getting ready for surgery

Surgery isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for nasal congestion. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is one of the most common surgeries Dr. McCutcheon performs, but it’s not the only one. The type of surgery you need and the specific techniques used depend on your diagnosis.

During your consultation, Dr. McCutcheon reviews the procedure with you and answers any questions you have. He also provides you with specific steps you need to prepare for your surgery. 

To learn more about your surgical options for chronic nasal congestion, call Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing at 281-822-3777. You can also use our online form to book your next appointment.

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